Love is All You Need: Celebrating Special Occasions at Sandals & Beaches Resorts
By Melanie Reffes
Growing up in Jamaica, Marsha- Ann Brown knew a career in hospitality was in the cards. Bringing passion to the job, she has one of the most unique positions in the Caribbean as Director of Romance for Sandals Resorts. The self-proclaimed ‘lifelong romantic’ truly landed her dream job and with her unbridled passion for making dreams come true, she has shared her passion and expertise with Sandals Resorts for more than 2 decades. Ms. Brown holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University and an MBA from Nova South Eastern University, also Florida. A leader in destination wedding and special event planning, Ms. Brown sat down with Marry Caribbean to share her insights into the growing romance market in the Caribbean. www.sandals.com
What Does a Romance Director Do?
As Sandals’ Director of Romance, my job is to make couples’ dreams come true. I feel very blessed to be able to do this every day. I absolutely love the dynamic nature of my job and the adrenaline of the unexpected. I love that I get to dream within stunning resort settings and then translate those dreams into realities. I love that weddings are trend-oriented, and with this comes the chance to dream within the latest trends. Just last year, we launched an English Royalty inspiration, inspired by the buzz around the Royal Wedding. I love that the fairy tales we create lead to happily-ever-afters for thousands of couples each year. And I love that I can share my ‘love for love’ with an unparalleled team of dream-makers, who, like me, live to make couples feel special in every way possible, whether they’re celebrating an engagement, a wedding, a honeymoon, a vow renewal, an anniversary or a simple getaway. And yes, that title is on my business card!
What Makes the Caribbean so Legendary for Weddings and Honeymoons?
There’s something about the Caribbean that illuminates love. There is such rich cultural diversity. People travel here for the infusion of culture from the magnet of the music, food and art to the richness of the people and their warm and friendly personalities. Most notably, the Caribbean is associated with a laidback environment. If I may quote the legendary Bob Marley, “there’s a natural mystic blowing through the air,” and people want to come to the land of the mystic especially when it’s time to celebrate their love. The flora and fauna and the dynamic topography of the land including coastline, mountains, valleys, rivers, streams and everything in between add to the appeal of the destination and affords the most diverse tours and excursions.
Is the Romance Market a Priority for the Sandals Resorts?
We host more than 10,000 weddings a year across our 19 Sandals and Beaches Resorts in Antigua, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Turks & Caicos, yes, the romance market is surely a priority for us! Our Sandals Custom Designed weddings destination wedding program gives brides and groom an endless choice and inspiration to mix and match the varied décor and designs when shaping up their big day. Sandals South Coast, Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals Grande St. Lucian and Sandals Ochi all offer the exquisite Over-the-Water Serenity Chapel, making these specific resorts popular for couples looking to literally walk on water on their special day. The destination wedding market is also a magnet for multigenerational parties, where their celebration expands over multiple days. Our Beaches Resorts are fantastic choices for multigenerational families looking to ensure their wedding is remembered for being fun and exciting both on the resort and off through incredible tours and excursions.
Beachfront at Sunset is the Image We All Have, What Are the More Creative Venues for a Wedding Ceremony?
Our Over-the-Water Serenity Chapel is perhaps the most creative and unique venue offered at Sandals. Currently available in St. Lucia and Jamaica, the chapels add true Caribbean flare to a traditional wedding experience, allowing couples to feel as though they’re walking on water, drawing them closer than ever to the crystal blue sea that the Caribbean is known for. And we can’t forget the incredible garden weddings! I’m immensely in love with the privacy of lush garden weddings and the beautiful flora and fauna that define them. Most importantly, we’re able to customize to the personality of the couple. If there’s a nook or cranny on the resort that appeals to them, like a bougainvillea arbour in full bloom, we will bring their dream to life.
Does Sandals Perform Same Sex Marriages?
The laws of the islands in which we operate inhibit us from performing same sex marriages, but our ultimate goal is to create an incredible experience for any two people in love. We work with same sex couples on unforgettable proposals, romantic honeymoons, milestone anniversaries and simple getaways.
What Other Romance Ceremonies Apart from Weddings Are Popular?
We believe that life is a celebration, and love is all you need to spark any type of custom-designed romance ceremony. Our Re-Tie the Knot ceremony is extremely popular and seamlessly commemorates their marriage and helps them begin a new chapter of their lives together in an intimate setting. The ceremony comes with everything from a personal planning team to a wedding cake. Additionally, we can arrange stress-free wedding proposals, luxurious anniversary celebrations, and of course, Luxury Included honeymoons.
What Are Some of the More Unusual Requests You’ve Received for a Wedding Ceremony, Rehearsal Dinner or Wedding Reception?
One of the more unique requests I’ve received is actually one of my favorite memories on the job. I once encountered a bride who decided only one hour before the wedding was set to take place that she wanted to enter on a horse rather than walk down the aisle. This was an amazing opportunity for my team to show the breadth of what Sandals can do for its couples. After asking for an additional 30 minutes, we tracked down a tour operator to get a horse on the resort, and the rest is wedding history.
How Are Couples Who Prefer a Religious Ceremony Accommodated?
A non-denominational minister presides over our wedding ceremonies, but if a couple is looking for a non-religious ceremony or a religious ceremony of any kind, they can consult with their wedding planner.
What is the Role of the Sandals Wedding Planners?
Wedding planners are at each resort, we also have wedding planners at the resorts from the very start of the journey, before travel even begins. The wedding team is responsible for coordinating every detail of a wedding, from the initial planning stages to the moment the bride walks down the aisle. This involves assisting with reserving accommodations, gathering the correct wedding documentation prior to arrival, ensuring the venue is properly arranged and much more. Every last detail is carefully planned for and managed every step of the way to ensure a bride and groom’s day is perfect. When it comes to training, Sandals Corporate University, an educational system designed to assist in the development of our team members through on the job training and development, provides the team with the opportunity to realize their full potential, both in their specialty area and beyond.
Get In Touch
Click www.sandals.com or call 1-888-SANDALS (1-888-726-3257) Open 24 hours every day.